Byron, CA (March 21, 2017) – At its regular board meeting Tuesday morning, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) took action to secure the sustainability of local groundwater resources. Following a public hearing, BBID’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to become a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) for a portion of the Tracy Subbasin, which underlies the District’s service area in portions of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Alameda Counties. As a GSA, the District will work cooperatively with surrounding agencies, cities and counties to manage groundwater in a responsible, sustainable manner.
The formulation of GSAs is required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA, which became state law in 2014, directs local agencies to work together to develop local groundwater sustainability plans in basins and sub-basins classified by the state as medium or high priority. The Tracy Subbasin has been classified as medium priority by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Under SGMA, if agencies are unwilling or unable to act, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) can intervene and set guidelines for local groundwater management.
“This initial step begins what will be a lengthy, but important process to sustainably manage local groundwater,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “Though groundwater is not a main source of supply for our growers, we’re acting proactively to ensure these management decisions are made at the local level by those who know the conditions best.”
As part of the resolution approved by the BBID Board, the District intends to develop groundwater sustainability plans for portions of the Tracy Subbasin within District boundaries in Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties, and both within and outside BBID’s boundaries in Alameda County. The Board voted to enter a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work with multiple agencies within Contra Costa County. In San Joaquin County, the District expects to collaborate with the City of Tracy to resolve overlaps in proposed GSA service areas. In Alameda County, the District plans to pursue an agreement with Zone 7 Water Agency, in which Zone 7 would formally delegate to BBID its authority to manage groundwater within Zone 7’s service area.
Under SGMA regulations, GSA formation is required no later than June 30th, 2017. Groundwater sustainability plans for the Tracy Subbasin must be completed by January of 2022.